Collaborate, Create, Communicate

Taking a twitter-like approach to after action review: creating a new method by stitching others together

How do you get more than 300 people to reflect on and share their thoughts on an event in a meaningful but fun way and in a short period of time? This was the question on the minds of myself, Peter Ballantyne and Tsehay Gashaw (both from ILRI KMIS) one day as we sat having coffee and discussing the then upcoming AgKnowledge Africa Share Fair.

People will have participated in training sessions (Day ‘Oh now i know how to…’), followed topic learning pathways, taken part in the active and innovative marketplace, engaged in numerous focus group discussions, and hopefully networked like crazy, so it was important to the local organizing group that people not only get a chance to reflect on the Fair’s four days but also be allowed to share their thoughts and suggestions.  It was also vital for us to hear these so we could learn from them.

As we pondered this question, we thought about the various tools and methods documented on the KS Toolkit such as Most Significant Change, FishBowl, Appreciative Inquiry, Chat Show, and more. But thinking about our situation and what we wanted to achieve, we found that each method on its own would not be viable with such a large group as they would take up too much time, not be participatory enough, be too structured, etc.

Stitching the parts together

As we thought further about the various tools and methods that would be used in the Share Fair, we realised that we liked certain parts of a number of them:

And this is when our new method was born …  the Collaborative Reflection Challenge (or at least this is what we are calling it for now – suggestions are welcome!)

And while it was at first simply a theoretical exercise as we sat drinking coffee that day, it became real when we used it at the end of Day 3 of the  Share Fair.

The Collaborative Reflection Challenge in action

Interested to know how the Collaborative Reflection Action was used? Our steps are shown below:

1. In plenary with the whole group we described the method.

 2. Using the different animals printed on each participant’s badge, we were able to form groups. For example, everyone with a frog or a goat on their badge had to find other ‘frogs’ and ‘goats’ , the same for dogs-butterflies, bees-ostriches, doves-dolphins, etc.

3. Groups were then invited to find their own space in the tent, the gardens or wherever they felt comfortable to meet.

4. Groups could carry out their reflections on the event using whatever activity they wanted. Some groups did a ‘go-around’ where each person could state their own thoughts, others had less structured open discussions, and yet others still used cards to compile everyone’s thoughts.

5. After a period of reflection and discussion, groups were expected to develop a group statement reflecting their thoughts and suggestions about the Fair but using only 140 characters. The concept is similar to that of a Tweet, an SMS, 140 visual characters in a cartoon, or whatever; the exact format was left open to the groups.

6. In the closing session of the Share Fair, a slot was dedicated to the presentation of the 140-character statements by each group. And what we received was an overwhelming burst of creativity and ingenuity, plus lots of good feedback. Below are some examples:

I arrived in darkness at #sfaddis, I was given time to share my K with others, I felt great and now I am a professor!

Other 140-character statements are shown in the following photos:

Tell us what you think of this ‘new’ method!
And let us know if you use it. Or stitch together your own!

Photo credits:

Blog post thumbnail- Uploaded by bewinca on http://www.sxc.hu/photo/905175

Other photos: Nadia Manning-Thomas (ICT-KM Program)